The Presbyterian Church Boycotts Israel
By Shea Hecht
The articles were in the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times. They were titled, "Churches Raise Pressure on Firms in Israel" and "Threat to Divest is Church Tool in Israeli Fight." They tell a story of main line Protestant denominations with close ties to Israel taking steps to try and influence the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by divesting funds from companies that do business with Israel.
The church committee named four companies that they claim contribute to the constant struggle in the Middle East through support for the Israeli settlements, construction of the protective barrier on the West Bank or facilitation of violent acts against civilians.
These companies include ITT industries and United Technologies, which supply communication equipment and helicopters to the Israeli military; Caterpillar, whose equipment is used in the building of the settlements; Motorola, which provides military wireless communications and invests in Israeli cell phone firms.
In an attempt to be even handed the committee also named Citigroup, for providing money transfer services to charities that were accused of being fronts for terrorist groups. Citigroup, of course, calls the charge against their company 'an outrage'.
The Presbyterian Church seems to be using politically correct economic empowerment to cover its non politically correct anti-Semitism .
There are other nominations of the Protestant church that are toying with divestment as a means to control the politics in the Middle East, but the language the Presbyterian church uses to discuss divestment is especially ugly. They place the blame for all the violence in the Middle East on Israel because of their presence in the land that the Palestinians demand. This stand is immoral. It makes Israel's self defense an evil surpassing terrorism and will ultimately bring an end to the Jewish State.
The timing is questionable, too. At a time when Israel is pulling out of Gaza, why would the Presbyterian church put sanctions on Israel? If they are simply concerned that all should be well for the Palestinians, the Presbyterians should be applauding Israel's effort for moving in the 'right direction.'
According to the articles the Presbyterians can feel for the Palestinian suffering because many Palestinians can't get help in the church run hospitals in Israel. What an absurd accusation! Israeli hospitals treat anyone that comes to them for help. Perhaps the Presbyterians should consider the fact that the Palestinians can't go to the Presbyterian hospitals in the Muslim countries surrounding Israel because there are none. The Muslim countries of the Middle East don't allow people to practice any other religion - including Christianity - and they don't allow their good Samaritans in to do their 'good work' either. Maybe the 'divestment of funds tactic' should be used with the Muslim countries that deny their people access to the help the church offers around the world.
The Church believes that the Bible, which says very clearly that the Holy Land was given to the Jewish people, is a living document. Over the years when the support came from the church they used the Bible as a reason for supporting Israel's survival - what happened now? Are the Presbyterians ready to say that part of the Bible is G-d given and the rest is up to human interpretation?
The Presbyterian church is using its success of diversity of funds to change the political climate in South Africa where the white minority ruled over the black majority, as a blue print for their actions in the Middle East. Is there a comparison between the South African apartheid and the situation in Israel? The Jews have biblical ownership of the land of Israel and have lived in the land for thousands of years. How can that be equated to the white man's claim of ownership of Africa?
Even if the members of the Presbyterian Church feel that regardless of historical ownership of the land there is injustice that must be addressed, why is the church silent when these same 'injustices' occur in other countries?
The Presbyterians say they have a problem with the Israelis building a security fence to protect themselves from attack. There is a long list of countries that built a security barrier between their own country and an enemy. Most notable is the USA which has a wall on the border it shares with Mexico to keep out illegal aliens - not suicide bombers; India is building a fence along the majority of its 1,800 mile border it shares with Pakistan to keep terrorists from crossing the border; Saudi Arabia has begun building a separation barrier along its border with Yemen to stop terrorists and smugglers from flowing into the border region; a land dispute led to the construction of a barbed wire fence by Uzbekistan on the border it shares with Kyrgyztan; there's an electric fence between Botswana and Zimbabwe and the list goes on and on.
The church is notably quiet about the construction of barriers in these countries. Is it because there is a double standard when an issue concerns Jews? Or is it because they jumped on the band wagon of those against the security fence in Israel?
Bulldozers are a problem? Cell phones? Should we go back to the Middle Ages? Dig by hand? Use land lines? Maybe the church wants to penalize the companies that make refrigerators for Israel? How about the companies that sell Israeli's mattresses?
The Presbyterian divestment scheme smacks of anti-Semitism. The church should simply stay out of the fray and out of Middle Eastern politics altogether and do its charity work with the poor Muslims in their own countries - if they will let the Christians in. By using politically correct economic empowerment to cover politically incorrect anti-Semitism directed against Israel which has hosted the church for so many years, the Church is practicing nothing less than "throwing stones into the well that they drink from."
from the September, 2005 Edition of the Jewish Magazine